When dressing ski kids layers are key, with special thanks to Niseko Power Connection, here are our recommendations on what kids should wear for family snow travel:
Dressing ski kids in layers
Think three essential layers for dressing kids for a ski holiday:
1. Dressing ski kids, the base layer
The base layer or inner layer, keeps kids dry and warm. This is also the layer they strip down to after a big day on the slopes or at breakfast before hitting the powder.
The base layer is like a second skin and should be fitted though not too tight and breathable. Go for Marino wool, silk treated or synthetic variety. Avoid cotton as it absorbs moisture easily, yet slow to dry so when the kids work up a sweat the moisture stays trapped and they become wet and cold on the slopes.
Base layer must haves
A good mid-weight Marino Wool thermal top and pants does the trick for dressing kids for the snow. However you can also find designer sports base layers that have superior wicking properties that draw moisture out and away from the skin. Whether to invest extra money for specialist ski thermals, comes down to your budget. The difference is minimal for young kids. It maybe just that little bit drier and lightweight for extra comfort. Marino Wool has natural wicking properties.
Invest in good quality ski socks to keep little toes warm. Look for socks that reach the mid-calf and has a good elastic band to hold socks in place.
A combination of Marino Wool and synthetic tend to be the best for keeping shape, insulating and non-pilling. Look for cushioning in the socks for added comfort.
2. Dressing ski kids, the mid-layer
The mild Australian ski conditions often means that you can at times forgo this layer. You can get away with warmer thermals and a well-insulated ski jacket or a very lightweight fleece or fleece vest. However the high altitudes and frigid conditions of the Northern Hemisphere means a good mid-layer is a must.
Mid-layer must haves
Invest in an insulated mid-weight fleece. A zipped jacket rather than a jumper is more versatile as it can be half zipped for ventilation and kids can easily put it on and off compared to a jumper style fleece. It can also be used as a jacket during your family travels.
Fleece pants or extra thermal leggings (optional)
If it’s really cold a mid layer pant maybe required. Otherwise you can put another thermal pant that’s slightly bigger over the base layer for extra warmth.
For babies and toddlers, look for the all-in-one (onesie) fleeces with a built in removable hood. Zips are preferred over buttons for quick nappy changes and undressing when indoors.
3. Dressing ski kids, the outer layer
The outer layer or shell layer protects your child from the wind and snow.
Outer layer must haves
Waterproof breathable ski jacket
Look for a lightweight insulated jacket, with sleeve cuffs (wrist gaiters). An elastic stretchy inner sleeve that loops over your child’s thumb, so they don’t have to keep pulling their sleeves down and prevents snow and wind from getting under the arm of the jacket. Velcro or zips around the wrists allow you to fit the sleeves snuggly around your child’s wrists for extra protection.
A ski jacket with a mid length which falls a few inches past the waist covering the ski pants, is best to keep snow from getting in at the back. There are also jackets with a drop tail at the back just for this purpose.
As well as being waterproof, the jacket should be made from a breathable fabric, with the dual effect of preventing snow from getting in and allows moisture between the layers to extract out. Try not to get caught up in the technicalities and science of the fabric. Most labels will boast the waterproofness and breathability of their ski jackets.
There are different waterproof and breathable brands such as Polartec, eVent and NeoShell. Gore-tex is the industry standard for excellent waterproofing. The jacket needs only to be waterproof and breathable to protect a child if it happens to snow lightly or take a tumble in the powder.
As a guide, a waterproof layer rating between 5,0000-10,000mm will provide protection from light rain and average snow. Which is probably the only conditions young kids may find themselves out in.
Look for a breathability rating otherwise known as Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) and measured in grams anywhere between 2,000g-30,000g. The higher the number the more breathable it is and therefore more expensive. Generally, jackets with a moderate breathability of between 10,000 – 15,000 grams provides satisfactory breathability in the conditions that young kids will be exposed to.
Easy zips and large pockets come in handy for things such as storing a ski pass, goggles or stowing handkerchief and lip balm.Test the zip feature with your child when they have mittens on to see if it’s easy to zip on and off.Some people choose a soft shell jacket, which is a waterproof layer without insulation, others choose an insulated jacket.
There are also 3 in 1 jackets that provide a removable liner (mid-layer). The choice is based on personal preference and budget. If you choose a shell jacket make sure your fleece (mid-layer) is warmer. Or alternatively buy a lighter fleece when choosing an insulated ski jacket.If choosing a 3 in 1 jacket, then you have the best of both worlds.
A jacket with hood shelters kids heads and shields faces from falling snow or chilly winds. Hoods can be attached, detachable or folds away into a zipped pouch in the collar, which is my preference for practicality. The only advice for hoods is to make sure it fits snugly or can be tightened over your child’s helmet.Other features to look for in a kids ski jacket include a powder skirt, located on the inside of the jacket and buttons around the waist which provides added protection from the wind and snow getting in. Also, a jacket that has a high collar that can zip up to prevent wind chills on chair lifts.
Waterproof snow pants or overalls
Snow pants that are preferably insulated keep little bottoms dry and warm. Look for pants with an adjustable waist, ankle gaiters which stretch over the boot to prevent snow going up the leg or into socks.
For overalls look for adjustable shoulder straps. These have their advantage where snow can’t go into the back. However, it’s a bit trickier to goto the toilet for little ones.
Other nice features on a pair of ski pants include adjustable hem for growing kids, deep pockets with easy zips and belt hoops so kids can clip their mittens too.
Waterproof ski mittens
Waterproof ski mittens are essential for keeping little fingers warm. Mittens are preferred as they are easier to wear, gloves are too cumbersome for young kids. Mittens that are lined with insulation provides extra warmth.
Look for mittens that have a wide gusset so kids can easily slip them on and off. Long mittens are better as they can go over the wrist and overlap the sleeve which keeps snow from getting in.
Look for mittens with an adjustable wrist strap to secure gloves to your child’s wrist size with an elasticised or cord pull wrist to prevent snow coming in. Also ones with clips come in handy to keep mittens together after skiing.
Mittens for babies and toddlers
For babies and toddlers you can get away with non-waterproof mittens. If they are waterproof it allows them to play in the snow longer and keep fingers nice and dry.
For babies and toddlers a waterproof onesie (all-in-one) is recommended. A full chin to toe zip is preferred over buttons for quick nappy changes and taking off the layer when indoors. Look for ones with ankle and wrist gaiters and adjustable straps to keep bubs warm and prevent snow from getting in.
There are also mittens that come with an extra cord which is attached to the mitten that kids can loop their wrists around so gloves stay on the wrists when taking them on and off. They are known as ‘idiot straps’ or ‘mitten leash’.
Other ways of preventing mittens from getting lost include mitten clips, which clip onto the child’s sleeve and mitten. There are also mitten or glove retainers a longer cord that is fed through the sleeves around the neck and clipped or attached to both mittens. These all serve the same purpose in preventing often expensive mittens becoming lost.
For extra warmth there are air activated hand warmers that last up to 7 hours. Some mittens contain built in compartments to slot the disposable warmers in.
Helmets protect little heads from bumps, falls and collision and are compulsory for ski school programs. You can hire kids helmets along with your other gear on mountain and have it expertly fitted. Or you can purchase one if intending to ski often.
Goggles are essential to protect kids eyes and faces. Goggles cut out the UV that reflects off the white snow as well as shield your child’s eyes and face as they come down the mountain. Particularly handy when it starts to snow, there are specific kids goggles which offer smaller size frames and straps for little faces.
Depending on your budget kids goggles range from the basic lens, to mirrored and polarized lenses. Bear in mind that kids can easily scratch, lose or outgrow their goggles.
A good feature to look for is a medium tint for all round use and anti-fog lenses.
A must have to protects you child’s exposed neck and can be pulled up to protect the bottom part of the face. It provides warmth and protection from the sun, chill and wind.
Beanie or hat
To keep the head and ears nice and warm when outdoors. This is more for off-piste action as helmets come with a lining and keeps heads insulated. Look for ones that go over the ears to keep them warm.
Snow boots for Apres ski
Snow boots keep little feet warm and dry. Snow boots also have the right grip to prevent slipping on ice and snow. However if you have a baby or toddler, you can get away with warm booties depending on how mobile he or she is.
For more tips on skiing with kids, check out The Best tips for skiing with kids post.
Planning on a ski trip? Have you been on a family ski holiday? What are your dressing ski kids tips or ideas on what to wear for family snow travel? Let us know what you think by replying below: